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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (21 September) . . Page.. 3039..


MS GALLAGHER: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. Dr Foskey, I will get an update on that issue. Although I am not aware of the details of the scenario which you have talked about today, I am aware of the program. As for the funding arrangements, I am not sure what part of the department it is funded from—whether it is recurrent funding or a one-off project funding. Certainly, I will get an update on it for you.

Members will be interested to know that community services ministers around the country met with the federal minister and raised this issue of the increased use of grandparents in care arrangements for children and the fact that we are seeing a lot more grandparents effectively taking up permanent parental responsibility for children around the country, which is not showing any signs of decreasing. A piece of work is being done through that ministerial council to look at the issue and certainly to push for grandparents to be eligible for payments from the commonwealth for taking care of their grandchildren, and I image this would flow on to the states through the foster care arrangements. I will get an update from the department in relation to the Marymead program and get back to the Assembly.

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Are you prepared to meet with some of the 87 grandparents involved and provide some guidance and encouragement for them in their search for additional support?

MS GALLAGHER: I am happy to meet with anyone who requests a meeting with me. I cannot recall having had a representation—not recently anyhow—on this program. I meet with pretty much anyone who requests a meeting where it is appropriate and relevant to my portfolio. I am not unhappy to do this. I meet with Marymead quite often. In fact, a few days ago I was at a meeting with Dawson Ruhl, the chief executive of Marymead, and he did not mention this to me then. Dawson, sits on the Children's Services Council, which provides advice to me as the minister on matters affecting children. So there has been an opportunity for this to be raised with me. However, I am more than happy to meet with people. I suggest that I get some advice, provide it to the Assembly and then we can take it from there.

Rhodium Asset Solutions Ltd

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, in question time yesterday you used words such as "absolutely absurd", "nonsensical", "no nexus", "fanciful"and "dishonest", in response to suggestions that the auditor had made adverse comments about the role of the shareholders in relation to the operations of Rhodium. You indeed asked that someone point out references.

On page 8 of the report summary it says that "due to the lack of strategic direction from the shareholders"Rhodium was hindered. On page 25 of chapter 3, a key finding was: "due to the lack of clear strategic direction from the shareholders". On page 29 of chapter 3, "a lack of clear directions from the shareholders"appears again. On page 32 of chapter 3, in the conclusion, the auditor says that the absence of clear directions by the ACT government as shareholders had again hindered the function of Rhodium. Chief Minister, how can you reconcile your statements yesterday with the numerous negative statements—some 13 of them—made by the auditor in the report on Rhodium questioning the lack of clear, strategic direction from Rhodium's voting shareholders?


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